2002 Junior World Championship Sanremo Rally (19-22 September) Duel on the Riviera? There will be twenty-five participants in the Sanremo Rally, fifth and penultimate round in the Junior World Championship. As in 2001, this luxurious Italian...
2002 Junior World Championship
Sanremo Rally (19-22 September)
Duel on the Riviera?
There will be twenty-five participants in the Sanremo Rally, fifth and penultimate round in the Junior World Championship. As in 2001, this luxurious Italian Riviera venue will be hosting starts and finishes for the three legs of the Italian round of the World Championship. But there is only one service park, based at Giardini San Lazzara in Imperia.
The rally route, round the tortuous bends of the inland mountain roads, is a perfect example of the extreme concentration needed in present-day rally routing. There are just four itineraries, back and forth, through the three legs. The main change is the reinstatement of the entire 42 km Colle Langan stretch (SS10 and SS14), which was split up into two parts last year owing to road works. Because the rally is two weeks earlier this year, weather conditions should be better - though of course you can never tell.
The Saxo drivers have held the top three Junior Championship positions ever since the Acropolis Rally in mid-June. In first place is the Catalan Dani Solà, and in second place Italy's Andrea Dallavilla, both of whom consolidated their ranking in Trier. In Catalunya and Germany (asphalt events like Sanremo), the Saxos took the first two places, so hopes are running particularly high. But neither Solà nor Dallavilla is counting his chickens before they're hatched. On the contrary, the closer they get to matching Sébastien Loeb's "Mundialito" exploit, the more wary they become of the competition.
Dani Solà has a five-point lead over his closest rival. But Andrea Dallavilla, taking part in his ninth Sanremo rally, is virtually in his own back yard at Sanremo. Last year, with Sébastien Loeb out of the way in his WRC Xsara, Dallavilla wiped the board completely, claiming eleven of the eighteen special stages. So the question is whether Dani, who's expecting a warm welcome from Andrea and the other Italian drivers, will go all-out to win or aim for second-place points, which would still place him first pending the final round in the Welsh hills.
Finnish driver Janne Tuohino currently stands third, but with just four asphalt rallies on the clock he will hardly be in his element here. He is nevertheless determined to win as many points as possible in Italy, and keep a chance of stealing away with top place in the UK. A bit further down the list, Mirco Baldacci plans to build on the points he won in Germany, and Jussi Välimäki, unlucky so far, is hoping that Lady Luck will smile on him in Sanremo. After the narrow defeat in Greece, a points-winning position would bring him welcome encouragement for the British final.
Saxo drivers form an even field
The five Saxo drivers competing in the Junior World Championship cover three different nationalities and come from widely differing backgrounds (with experience ranging from Super 1600 to World Championship). They are driving for three different stables: Lux Development Technology (Francorchamps, Belgium), P.H. Sport (Chalindrey, eastern France) and Vieffe Corse (Brescia, Italy).
No. 51 - Andrea Dallavilla (I) - Giovanni Bernacchini (I) - Scuderia Vieffe Corse
Andrea Dallavilla (born 7 June 1969 in Brescia, Italy) was Super 1600 vice-champion in 2001, with one first place (at Sanremo) and three second places, making him Sébastien Loeb's toughest challenger. With a jockey's slight build, (1.68 m, 67 kg) Dallavilla is a highly experienced driver, with around ten years in rally racing, 24 world championship entries, one Italian championship title (1997) and two vice-champion titles (1996 and 1998). He eagerly joins the team of rally enthusiasts led by industrialist Vittorio Franzonin, with whom he worked for Sanremo 92. He was Italian Super 1600 vice-champion in 2002.
No. 56 - Jussi Välimäki (FIN) - Tero Gardemeister (FIN) - Lux Development Technology
Finnish driver Jussi Välimäki (born 10 September 1974 in Tampere, Finland) is an old hand, like Dallavilla. He finished ninth in the 2001 Super 1600 championship, and in 17 world championship appearances, his best result was 13th place in the 2000 Finnish Rally, at the wheel of an Escort WRC. Together with team-mate Tero Gardemeister, he'll be taking part in a few trials with a Corolla WRC, as well as running in the Junior Championship.
No. 62 - Janne Tuohino (FIN) - Petri Vihavainen (FIN) - P.H. Sport
Janne Tuohino (born 22 June 1975 at Kiiminki) currently holds the Finnish championship title, and has been member of the Finnish Federations Coaching Team since 1997. In 1999 he was Finnish gr.N champion and drove an Escort WRC to a fine 8th place in the Finnish Rally. He has made a total of 22 world championship appearances, including eight at the wheel of a Corolla WRC, with which he finished 11th in the 2001 Finnish Rally. This year he completes his junior programme with a WRC, and was one of the revelations of the recent Swedish Rally (7th place) . He finished 12th (and first private driver) in Cyprus and 11th again in Finland.
No. 65 - Dani Solà (E) - Alex Romani (E) - P.H. Sport
Catalan Daniel Solà (born 3 January 1975 at Vic, north-eastern Spain), winner after two seasons of an asphalt promotion formula, quickly honed his versatility by driving in an dirt-road monotype formula, in which he finished second. In 2000, he took part in Spanish asphalt and dirt trials simultaneously, finishing first in the diesel category in the former and second in the 2WD category in the latter. He followed the same schedule in 2001, driving a Saxo kit car to third place in the championship on the asphalt, with eight F3 victories, and a Cordoba WRC to fifth place on the dirt, with two scratch wins.
No. 66 - Mirco Baldacci (RSM) - Maurizio Barone (I) - Scuderia Vieffe Corse
Mirco Baldacci (born 19 September 1977) comes from San Marino and is the son of the fastest Italian driver in the Simca Rally 2. In Italy he is considered one of the most promising youngsters, especially on the dirt. He excelled on dirt roads with a Clio, and followed through in 2001 with the two-wheel-drive TIT (Trofeo Italiano Terra) at the wheel of a gr.N Astra. Side by side with this programme, he made his world championship debut with a gr.N Lancer WRC, taking two fourth places (Portugal and Greece) out of five races run.